Our Stories Best Survive Us in Writing
“I wish I’d have listened more,” my co-worker said, referring to her father’s oral stories about his military service during World War II.
She knows he was married and had a 6-month-old son at the time he was drafted. He served for several — three? four? — years. She wishes she knew more.
My father, too, served in World War II. Four months before he died (I didn’t know that at the time, of course), I asked him about his service and wrote down what he said: When he went to take the Army entrance exam in 1944 at age 24, it was the first time he left his home county. During the four months he was in basic training at Camp Gordon, Georgia, he bought a pint of ice cream from the PX every evening. (“It was summertime, and the days were long,” he commented.) He wrote his girlfriend — whom he would marry in 1947 —two or three times a week while he was away.
A chapter about my dad’s 18 months in the Army is part of the book of his and my mom’s life stories that I put together years after I interviewed him.
Go ahead and put some of your own stories in writing. Your children might not be paying much attention to them now, but when the day comes that they — or other loved ones — wish they would have listened more, it won't be too late; they will be able to read your stories in your own words.